While wearable devices are increasing in popularity and capability, many designers are missing the mark in creating devices that address the aging population’s needs and work for an older user base, according to a new report.
Though wearables are becoming more common, the population is growing older and many designers aren’t accounting for an aging population’s needs during the design process. This can severely undermine the technology’s value, according to the report, which was published in the July 2017 issue of Ergonomics in Design.
“The proportion of the population over the age of 65 is growing and will continue to do so. Technological developments are exponentially growing and inundating our lives, and we don’t want a demographic that is scaling up in size not to have access to devices that are becoming prolific in everyday society,” Joanna Lewis of the University of Central Florida said in a prepared statement.
Older aged users tend towards feelings of mistrust and frustration when operating new devices, and often abandon the technology, according to the report, losing any value associated with it.
Authors recommended that age-linked declines in cognitive, physical and sensory abilities be taken into account during the design process, suggesting that designers aim to reduce steps required for performing actions, minimize the need for multitasking and remove time constraints. Other steps included increasing size of buttons, text and icons, and avoiding clunky or “outdated” exteriors which could cause uers to feel stigmatized by their peers.
“A device’s usability should consider all ages. Potential issues with wearable devices for older adults can be avoided by acknowledging limitations, and development teams can create effective and safe platforms that appeal to a variety of end users,” Lewis said.